With Pope Francis arriving in the United States earlier this week, organizers are putting the final touches on details of his visit to Philadelphia, as well as the various festivities marking the momentous occasion.
More than 550 banners hung throughout city
“Have the courage to be truly happy.”
That message from the Pontiff, along with others, is featured prominently on banners hung throughout Philadelphia in honor of the World Meeting of Families and the Holy Father’s visit.
More than 550 banners in all – with some displaying alternate phrases “love is the measure of faith” and “we all have the duty to do good” – mark the single largest installation of banners in the city since the 2000 Republican National Convention was held there, according to WMOF organizers.
“These striking banners will mark a historic moment for the City of Philadelphia and our archdiocese,” said Donna Crilley Farrell, WMOF executive director. “As we developed these colorful banners, we wanted Pope Francis’ messages of unity, hope and love for the family to be the centerpiece.”
She said that the banners will serve to welcome all to the city and reinforce some important messages.
“Whether Catholic or of another faith tradition, Pope Francis’ words touch hearts and call all of us to serve,” she said. “The Holy Father’s words are what have made him such a transformative global leader.”
Entertainment prior to program at Independence Hall
Organizers have announced that The Philly POPS Festival Brass will perform “Fanfare for the Common Man” as Pope Francis arrives to Independence Hall for his address on immigration and religious liberty Sept. 26.
“There was no better choice than to have The Philly POPS Festival Brass perform at this singular moment of anticipation and excitement for the city,” said Farrell. “Set against the backdrop of Independence Hall, the joyful sounds of this quintet will surely delight audiences and set the right tone as the Holy Father prepares to address two of the most important issues being discussed in the world today.”
In addition to The Philly POPS, organizers have lined up eight performance groups, which will be part of the pre-programming at Independence Hall in advance of the Holy Father’s message. Programming will begin at 12:30 p.m.
Performance groups include:
-- El Mariachi Flores – a local mariachi band with roots in Mexico City, Mexico
-- Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble – a roster artist for the Pennsylvania Performing Artists on Tour group, with frequent tours regionally and nationally
-- Mystic Warriors – a celebration of Andean music, with roots in South America
-- Pablo Batista and the Mambo Syndicate – an 11-piece band featuring Philadelphia native Batista, a renowned and award-winning percussionist
-- Philadelphia Argentine Tango School – the city-based school will share one of the Pope’s favorite dances
-- Polish American Cultural Center – represented by a group of 20 students who attend St. Adalbert’s Polish Language School and will perform traditional Polish dances
-- Tibetan Association of Philadelphia – the group will highlight its commitment to love, compassion and kindness through performing authentic Tibetan dances in advance of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Philadelphia in October
-- Vietnamese Fan Dancers of Rowan University, Glassboro, the group will perform a traditional dance representing the growing Vietnamese population throughout the region
“The rich cultural fabric of the Philadelphia region will be fully celebrated on Saturday, September 26 in advance of Pope Francis’ arrival at Independence Hall,” said Farrell. “In this most historic setting for both our city and our nation, we honor our immigrant heritage, which has in so many ways defined the United States from its inception.”
Festival of Families entertainment announced
WMOF organizers have announced the entertainment lineup for the Festival of Families Sept. 26, which will be held on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Academy Award nominated actor Mark Wahlberg has been tapped to host the festival, with the 18-time Grammy Award winning “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, performing for Pope Francis along with the multi-platinum, four-time Grammy Award nominated band, The Fray, and singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Marie Miller.
Those renowned performers will join an impressive set of entertainers, including Andrea Bocelli, Juanes and The Philadelphia Orchestra.
“When we first envisioned The Festival of Families, we could have never anticipated such an extraordinary line-up of talent would be part of this once-in-a-lifetime event,” said Farrell.
Other performers on the two main stages of the Festival of Families include:
-- Logan Square Stage (in performance order, beginning at 12:45 p.m.)
-- Salvation Army Songsters
-- Dancing with the Students
-- Christopher Duffley
-- St. Raymond of Penafort Gospel Choir
-- Modero Dance Company
-- Nigeria/Igbo Community @ St. Cyprian
-- Viva Mas
-- Mutya Philippine Dance Company
-- St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Community
-- Oscuro Quintet
-- Everything Fitz
-- Joe Castillo
-- Osage Ballet Company
Eakins Oval Stage (in performance order, beginning at 5:27 p.m.)
-- American DanceWheels
-- Jackie Evancho
-- Matt Maher
-- Sister Sledge
-- Jim Gaffigan
Each of the performances will also be shown across the Francis Festival Grounds on the 40 Jumbotron screens being positioned for guests.
Performances announced leading up to Papal Mass
The entertainment will continue Sept. 27 in the hours leading up to the Papal Mass, with pre-programming slated for the Eakins Oval Stage. Nine artists and groups will perform starting at noon, and will be more spiritual in nature than those performers featured during the preceding day’s Festival of Families.
Performers, listed in performance order, include:
-- Joybells of Melmark
-- Firehill Worship
-- Geechee Gullah Ring Shouters
-- Margaret Keys
-- Divine Hand Ensemble
-- Melanie R. Hill
-- Martin Doman – Christ Music
-- The Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale
-- Anthony Kearns
“The Papal Mass is the capstone event of the World Meeting of Families and we are absolutely delighted to have such incredible talent prelude this momentous event,” said Farrell. “From the Joybells of Melmark to Irish soprano Margaret Keys to the beloved Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale, such beautiful and spiritual performances will truly set the tone for the Papal Mass and herald the arrival of Pope Francis on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the most joyful way.”